Good day Oshiego! How are you guys doing these days?
Umar: So far so good! We’re enjoying the festive season. Eid Mubarak to all! What about you?
First of all, please introduce your band and band members to our readers.
Umar: I’m Umar, the only member left from the original line-up. I started off with guitars until a nerve injury hindered my guitar playing. I took over the vocal duties after that. I was the main songwriter until Zul joined us.
I’d like to know about the formation of the band. How did you guys meet and all. Also, is there any special story behind the band title?
Umar: We started out as teens. I think I was about 17 or 18 back then. There were about 4 of us who had guitar lessons from the same teacher and were all looking for a band to play in. We definitely had some misunderstandings and tons of musical differences after our first show and recording sessions (which we never received from the studio) which led the first line-up to fall apart. Kadir (the first vocalist who ended up as long term guitarist) decided to continue without the rest of the members due to our love for Death/Thrash Metal.
Kadir and I agreed to always incorporate groove, aggression and tightness in our music. The music needs to be tight! I felt we didn’t have enough bands in this genre to deliver that from our region of the world. I just wanted to come out with great releases against all odds. We also didn’t have many bands here with good sound in their recordings nor do they sound the same when they’re live. We don’t have the luxury of time, funds or many platforms for this kind of music. It’s a rat race in Singapore. Working for money to survive the high standards of living is sort of the way of life here. That wouldn’t stop us, really. I always saw the band as a gentlemen’s club. Other people would play golf. We’ll play Death Metal. We just want to come out with great releases against all odds.
There’s no special story on the band name, really, haha. One of the older members wanted a Japanese name since our guitar teacher had a Japanese name for his band. I was listening to Slayer’s ‘Disciple’ at that time. According to google translate, ‘Oshiego’ means ‘Disciple’. Besides I’m a huge fan of Manga and Anime with Berserk being my favourite of all time. I like G1 Transformers and Japanese super robot cars/trucks and From software games. So, why not, haha.
I’ve known Zul for quite some time. I first met him when we attended the same Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) classes and we share common friends. Zul used to be a naysayer until he listened to ‘Crossing the Bridge of Siraat’, our third album, haha. We agree until today that it’s our best album. I had decided to hang my Death Metal boots after the fourth album, ‘The Book of Wonders’, since Bryan, the most recent guitarist before Zul, decided to leave the band to pursue other things. I’ve worked with Bryan for 3 albums and by this time, I’m fatigued from all the line-up change and songwriting. Zul already had a lot of love for our releases and believed that we should go on. So Zul volunteered to take over the songwriting responsibilities. I’ve known zul to be mighty fine with the guitars and thought, why not. It was decided that Zul would write the songs and had me make a few tweaks to the arrangement of the music when absolutely needed. I didn’t have to do much of that since most of the songs and riffs were already great. Zul was to handle all the guitars and bass as well. I’d just get the lyrics down, lay the vocals and then mix and master the songs.
And of course we had the ultimate mercenary for hire to settle the drums. Krzysztof Klingbein was a gem to work with. An absolute beast of a drummer.
Zul: I know Umar a little less than 15 years now, i had some idea of what he was doing musically but never really got into it with him on Oshiego. I think we met up after my dad’s funeral which Umar attended in 2019, he handed me a copy of “Crossing The Bridge Of Siraat’ and that was it, i was sold. Umar invited me to join shortly after that. To date i have not listened or enjoyed anything else as good as that album. Its a Death Metal masterpiece in my opinion.
I expect a long reply for this one. Can you please tell us about the concept and lyrical themes of all your previous releases?
Our first 2 releases ‘Now Suffer’ (demo) and ‘Woe to the Conquered’ were mostly based on the ‘Legacy of Kain’ video game series. Even 2 songs from ‘The Heretic Priests of Amon’ were based on the game. We are huge fans of the series. We did have a couple of songs from ‘Unending Carnage’ that were just really fun songs. They don’t mean much really.
‘The Heretic Priests of Amon’ and ‘The Great Architect of Nothing’ were written to convey our creationist beliefs in the oneness of the Almighty creator of the worlds, Allah, and our contempt for the materialists’ ideology promoted by many elite secret societies, media and most governing bodies of today. We’ve got songs based on the signs of the end of the world, punishment in the hereafter and arrival of the Antichrist, all based in an Islamic context.
‘Crossing the Bridge of Siraat’ picked up from where ‘The Great Architect of Nothing’ stopped. We added lyrical content based on our preordained journey in the hereafter, what awaits to torment us when we fail in this world. We also touch topics on Sihr (magic) and unjust rulers.
‘The Book of Wonders’ was based on a 14th and 15th century Arabic manuscript compiled by Abd al-Hasan Al-Isfahani. The book contains illustrations on astronomy, divination, astrology, Djinn, zodiacs and climates. There’s not much explanation nor text in the book. Just pictures.
‘Jaljalut’ was written for our love of Sufism. I wouldn’t say I’m a good practitioner. Nowhere close to being good. But we have huge respect and hold the past Sufi Masters in high regard. Some of the songs are also based on daily struggles, the state of the world and slamming untruth.
Is there any special reason for choosing your music conception?
Umar: I guess you can say it’s due to our heritage, religion and things close to our hearts. We try our best to write material with our souls. We’re really passionate about what we do.
Zul: I think its our shared love for Islamic sufi and esoteric literature that brought about the idea for ‘Jaljalut’. Plus its really damn cool writing about manuscripts that are perhaps a millennia old or even older.
How do you guys manage to create music at all? What challenges do you face while writing and recording an album?
Umar: We don’t have many challenges with writing. We try our utter best to make sure every single riff can be headbanged to. Our framework from day one was:
- Come out with kick ass riffs
- Structure of the drums
- Vocal lines
I believe it is most important for the guitars and drums to syncopate seamlessly. The bass can be added latter to act as the cement to hold the guitars and drums together, just like bricks.
Zul: For me personally, writing for an established band with a clear and defined sound was a bit daunting at first. It took some time for me to cement Oshiego’s sound and style and incorporate it with my own. The end result is what you hear on ‘Jaljalut’.
Time was the greatest obstacle for me when writting for ‘Jaljalut’, having a full time job really sucked, it greatly impeded the creative process. I’d have 2-3 hours max to work on songs daily, so it took some time to get all the songs down and right. We worked with what we have and made the best out of it.
Most of the time i’d complete a song and Umar would listen and give his inputs on arrangements etc. Initially we’d meet up once a week to write songs together, but our schedules were impossible to coordinate, so we did the long distance thing instead, even though we live just a few kilometers away haha.
Jaljalut was released early this year. How was the experience working in the studio? Any funny or even sad happenings during the studio work?
Umar: To tell you the truth we didn’t really record everything in the studio. We hardly met each other to record. Guitars and bass were lined in all by Zul, himself, at home. We didn’t use any amps at all. The technology for amp sims has been great recently. Initially I had the vocals down in my bedroom, til my neighbour started to complain about the crazy growling. So we had to borrow Zul’s cousin’s jamming space to complete the rest of the vocal parts.
Over the years i have worked with numerous guitar players, both on Oshiego’s records and off, Zul is hands down the best guitarist i’ve worked with. He has a perfect sense of timing, great melodies and super tight rhythm works, and to top it all off, his solos are mind blowing. He manages to write great solos on a death metal album without sounding too pompous and all that. Just right amount of juice.
Of course Krzysztof had all his drums done in Poland. The drums sounded great. Probably the most superb drum sound I’ve dealt with.
When all that’s done I’ll mix and master everything in my bedroom.
Zul: Everything had to be on point before we began recording. We were pushing ourselves to write the best songs and to play our best on ‘Jaljalut’. We are really happy that most reviewers noticed this also (us not half assing anything), I believe our work ethics can be clearly heard on this record.
Krzysztof’s great work ethics coupled with precise and exciting drum works is worth mentioning here as well. Working with him was a breeze, everything was fluid and the drum tracks were ready earlier than expected. Its as though we’ve been doing this together for years, he instinctively knew what we wanted. We are looking forward to working with Krzysztof on our future releases, if time and availability permits.
Oh yeah, I actually recorded a solo over a vocal section on ‘The Book of the Sun of Gnosis and the Subtleties of Elevated Things’, I think it was the first solo. Umar was kind enough to let me keep the solo, haha. Overall, recording ‘Jaljalut’ was a truly enjoyable and sweet endeavour for me.
You guys are still underground/underrated, although your music has been appreciated by the critics worldwide. What, according to you, is the reason behind it?
Umar: Producing music from the heart is of the utmost importance. But that’s not enough. It has to be groovy, tight and edgy. And of course it needs to sound real. We don’t need the music to sound pretentious. We don’t do drum replacements on every snare and tom hit and we don’t layer the vocals 5 to 6 times till it sounds different, if we were ever to play live. We practice hard and make sure we take the least takes so everything sounds natural. Real music performed with practice.
Zul: First off, we sincerely appreciate all the positive reviews for Jaljalut so far, it has been surreal. I think Oshiego still being underground/underrated is largely due to our personal philosophy or attitude towards the whole music thing. Basically we do not adhere to commonly held definitions and standards on what success is. Making good music from the heart and being true to who we are trumps everything else. Plus we don’t play trendy or trending metal, whatever that is nowadays.
Can you throw some light on your past as musicians?
Umar: I don’t have much history as musician. I started with a flying V. Started with some easy Punk rock, Nu Metal (System of a Down, Slipknot, American Head Charge, etc), some licks, did some Slayer and Kreator and it was all Oshiego after that. I know people throw shade on those Nu Metal stuff but they really helped me with tightness. Its simple riffing but the starts and stops with the click really helps you practice tightness. I saw myself more of a songwriter than a guitarist from the start.
Zul: I started playing seriously around the age of 15, you know the 8 hours a day kind of serious. I played in numerous cover bands. Did everything from Sabbath, Maiden, Metallica, King Diamond to Melechesh and some early Arch Enemy stuff. Did what young musicians do, like played locals gig and what not.
Tried recording a death metal album in 2000, but it didn’t really pan out, been playing in my bedroom ever since then. Joining Oshiego kind of revived my flat lining passion for playing and writting music.
Tell us about your favorite bands, from whom you gain inspiration. Are you having any favorite artist/band that has emerged from metal/rock soil?
Umar: I don’t have a specific favourite band, but these bands have really influenced me. Kreator, old Sepultura, Grave, Vomitory, Blood Red Throne, Melechesh, Demonoid, Nile, Behemoth (Zos Kia Kvltvs and Demigod only), Vader, old System of a Down and Punk Rock legends Bad Religion. There’s of course many more. Of course you can’t have a complete list with George ‘Copsegrinder’ Fisher. That man is a legend!
Zul: I grew up on Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest just to name a few, so my journey to Death Metal was not immediate and took some time, it came about progressively. I am a big King Diamond and Mercyful Fate fan as well, from my pre teen years up till today, i am stil listening to KD and MF. These two bands have played and continue to play a major role in my development as a musician, songwriter and a guitar player.
On the extreme spectrum, bands like Bolt Thrower, Vomitory, Immolation, Behemoth (Zos Kia Kvltvs and Demigod), Luciferion, and Melechesh have been a great influence. A complete list of my influences would be too lengthy.
How is the metal scene going in your country?
Umar: To tell you the truth, I’m not that much involved. I’m really out of touch. It’s just work, family and Elden Ring at this moment.
Tell us, if you have played abroad.
Umar: We’ve played 2 shows in Indonesia. The first one with Marduk at Surabaya. That was the best live show I’ve been to, period. It was at some indoor warehouse. Great crowd and Marduk were steller. The 2nd one was with Misery Index in Jakarta. Wasn’t as memorable as the one before but it was still a heck of an experience.
Are you working on any music videos, might it be a videoclip or lyric video?
Umar: Maybe for future releases. We’ve got some lyric videos for Jaljalut. That’s all for now.
Rapid fire section. Just for fun. So just chill, and just type the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear:
* Religion –
Umar: Islam is truth
Zul: Light and Peace
* Death –
Umar: The beginning of the next life
* Majestic –
Umar: Allah SWT, The most beneficent, most merciful. The ruler of the worlds
* Drugs –
Umar: You can’t play tight when you’re high. No!
* Provenance –
Umar: Quality, elite warriors
Zul: Lights. Origins.
Thanks a lot for your time! It’s really nice to know more about you. Would you like to say anything to your fans and our readers?
Umar: Thanks for having us! We appreciate all your support. Thrash and Destroy!